Film/TV Jul 31, 2013 at 4:00 am

A New Documentary About Killing, Starring Killers


The government that supported these killings is certainly not in power anymore (that would be the Suharto regime, which took power at the start of the killings but was deposed in 1998). There have been 3 democratic elections since 1998 and 5 presidents. It would be correct to say, however, that there are members of the government today that supported or participated in the killings. The film has caused a stir in newly democratic Indonesia, including opening a debate about a terrible chapter in that country's history. Although some of the gangsters portrayed in the film are revered as heroes, there are civil society groups (including survivor groups) who are using the film to push for a reassessment of history (and clearing of names -- those labeled communist who managed to survive, and their families, still face discrimination).
Sorry, 4 presidents since 1998.
Watch the film. See how these killers are considered heroes, including one scene where the current Vice President of Indonesia praises them. Impunity persists in Indonesia for the crimes shown in the film and later ones committed by Indonesia's armed forces from the invasion and occupation of East Timor and to ongoing violations in West Papua. Human rights groups are supporting an appeal from survivors for the Indonesian government to acknowledge the truth about the 1965 crimes and to apologize and provide reparations to the victims and their families. See
John Roosa's Pretext for Mass Murder is an excellent academic accompaniment to the film detailing the history of the 1965 murders. Unsurprisingly, Indonesia banned him from returning to study its history for many years after it was published.

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